by Matt Slater
ALEX Smithies’ last-minute save was the difference in a game of two halves as Cardiff City toppled West Bromwich Albion from the top spot.
Neil Harris’ side got their first win in four as an out of form West Brom continued their winless streak.
Lee Tomlin’s impact from the bench was crucial as his freekick cancelled out Charlie Austin’s penalty to give the Bluebirds all three points.
Leeds United leapfrogged West Brom at the top of the table as Cardiff move to just five points off the playoffs.
— Cardiff City Fans (@CardiffCityCCFC) January 28, 2020
The Bluebirds had the first real chance of the game. Targetman, Robert Glatzel, got onto the end of a through ball but saw his shot fly straight at Sam Johnstone.
West Brom’s captain, Jake Livermore, showed his leadership with West Brom’s first real chance. The former England international saw his volley fly wide of the post and into the jeering home fans.
After soaking up some early pressure, the home side received a free kick on the edge of the box after Kyle Bartley took down Gavin Whyte.
Marlon Pack’s attempt to outwit Johnstone, by firing it under the wall, was unsuccessful and wasted.
The Baggies started to take control at the end of the first half. Winger, Matt Phillips, found the ball on the edge of the area but rocketed it over the bar.
Dara O’Shea had West Brom’s best chance of the half. The right back found himself in an abundance of space, but once again, the away fans saw an opportunity blaze over the bar.
After a half with little quality, Cardiff started the second half with a bang.
Morrison found Paterson on the six-yard box, following poor defending, and the Scot was able to open the scoring with an easy tap in.
Slavan Bilic’s side instantly tried to grab an equaliser, first through Matt Phillips.
The winger picked out Felipe Krovinovic, but the attacking midfielder was unable to find the target from close range as his attempt was blazed over the bar.
And it was the same attacking midfielder who was taken down by Jazz Richards inside of the box to give the away side a penalty.
It was the substitute, and West Brom’s top goal-scorer, who found the back of the net from the spot, with what was his first touch of the game.
The home side reacted by continuing their pressure on the Birmingham based backline.
Matt Phillips brought down an advancing Lee Tomlin on the edge of the box. The attacker fired the ball into the top corner, in front of a roaring Canton stand, to give the Bluebirds the lead once again.
Tomlin was looking to add further hurt to West Brom shortly after but saw his shot slice wide.
In injury time, it was a former Bluebird who nearly saved a point for West Brom.
Kenneth Zorhore’s tap in was brilliantly saved by Smithies. The Englishman was diving away from the ball and prevented the former Bluebird from equalising, in what was virtually the last kick of the game.
Star Man: Lee Tomlin
Cardiff City: Alex Smithies, Jazz Richards, Sean Morrison, Curtis Nelson, Joe Bennett, Marlon Pack, Will Vaulks, Gavin Whyte (Leandro Bacuna 82’), Callum Paterson, Junior Hoilett (Sol Bamba 90+4), Robert Glatzel (Lee Tomlin 63’).
West Browmwich Albion: Sam Johnstone, Dara O’Shea, Kyle Bartley (Darnell Furlong 76’), Ahmed Hegazi, Nathan Ferguson (Charlie Austin 59’), Jake Livermore, Romaine Sawyers, Matt Phillips, Felipe Krovinovic, Kyle Edwards, Hal Robson-Kanu (Kenneth Zohore 59’).